2007 - 2021

Hard Choices For Us Gnats

The Great Crash Of ’29 by JK Galbraith has the grim line “the end had arrived but was not yet visible”.

We are past that now with Brexit, something ominous looms in the mist. It is (probably) already too late to avoid a chaotic No Deal.

Where does the quickening of the crisis and the melting of UK institutions leave the SNP?

Hard Choice No 1

A hard border with France and Ireland means the same for Scotland: lorry parks, new ferry ports and customs declarations, but probably not passport control.

Hard Choice No 2

What does that mean for the process of independence?

Brexit, whilst daft, is so dangerous because of the lack of planning. An orderly retreat to WTO terms would see a shrinking of the economy – but an unplanned crash out is the catastrophe. How long should a planned transition to a hard border take?

Referendum in the spring of 2019 and Independence in 2022? 2024? 2026?

Hard Choice No 3

What is our status with the EU during this transition? Not full members? Candidate members? Our final state relationship with rUK will be the EU-rUK one – the lesson of Ireland is clear, we are more powerful if we pool and share our sovereignty with the rest of Europe.

But in the interim? Rule-taking from London for a year, two years? What trade-offs?

Hard Choice No 4

What is our retail offer to No voters? If “they’re shite” was good enough then Corbyn would be PM. We claim we speak for Scotland? (We don’t). How do we?

(Our offer to Leave voters is easier, we simply let them ‘remember’ they didn’t vote for this, don’t nag them, slag them or dig them up.)

For a 60%-40% win means getting Yes’s from Tory, unionist Scots. Alex Massie is on the high tide mark. Imagine you bump into him on Leith Walk – you need a pitch with a 1 in 3 hit rate. Do you have it? (No).

The Easy Choice

The easy choice, the Corbyn choice, is to ignore all of these, to keep on keeping on, hoping the UK will just calmly dismantle itself and put the bits away.

Beyond the current crisis is the horrors of the Brexit Act which grants sweeping decree powers to Ministers at Westminster – powers that in Northern Ireland were used way beyond their intended remit over 50 years. The idea that either of the current Labour or Tory frontbenches should have those powers, in this situation, is monstrous.

The SNP is a grown-up party of Government. Being straight with people about these hard choices is what we have to do. The roiling, unending, crises at Westminster makes this, in truth, the easiest choice of all.

Comments (10)

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  1. Doug Hepburn says:

    I want so hard to disagree with you, but I can’t. We are now in a situation were without radical and rapid action, to quote Private Fraser “We’re doomed”.

  2. tartanfever says:

    I’m not sure about these ‘ Hard Choices for the SNP’.

    Surely the word ‘Choice’ infers that there are at least a couple of options ?

    In many of these examples there are simply no choices.

    No 1 – nothing the Scottish Government can do about this, surely they are merely expected to carry out any necessary instructions as handed down by the UK government ?

    No 2 – Surely this is wrong ? there is no ‘orderly retreat to WTO terms’ or ‘unplanned crash out’. In terms of the WTO and future trade deals they are exactly the same thing. If you are going to rely on the basic WTO terms then haven’t you have failed to strike any deal with the EU ? It doesn’t matter how you describe how you got there ‘orderly’ or otherwise, the fact is that you are there.

    No 3 – ‘What is our status with the EU during this transition?’ –

    Well, if you have an ‘unplanned crash out’ – there is no transition, indeed, if you are going to WTO terms with the EU then doesn’t that indicate that there is no deal and therefore no transition ? Also, more importantly, we leave the EU at the end of March. thats an automatic trigger of law, unless something is done to change that like extending Article 50 or revoking Brexit. So unless something is done to stop Art 50 we will go from being in the EU to out of the EU on 29th March. That’s it, it’s black and white – no grey areas.

    No 4 – ‘What is our retail offer to No voters?’

    What does this even mean ? Personally, I wouldn’t even converse with No voters. Voters in Scotland have made up their minds – their views from 2014 pretty much remain, and the polls show that. Only external issues will affect the polls for independence and those factors are being discussed in Westminster and with Brexit. I suspect it will be like Climate Change, people just simply won’t act on it and make changes until they experience it themselves. Maybe we have to see more hardship in Scotland, some food shortages etc before some people make up their minds that maybe Independence is the choice to make. What a dreadful situation.

    1. Gordon Guthrie says:

      The first three choices are what we say we will do after we win an IndyRef.

      If we don’t talk to No voters we won’t win, simple as that…

    2. Commenter says:

      >Personally, I wouldn’t even converse with No voters.

      What’s the plan – glowering?

      1. Yeah that line stood out as a sign of a movement in retreat. What a dire attitude.

  3. Alf Baird says:

    As the ECJ recently confirmed, the ending of and withdrawal from a treaty is a unilateral decision solely for the country/entity concerned. And, as the UKSC found in the case of Brexit, a majority of a country’s elected representatives may make that decision. As Westminster has accepted the claim of right this means Scotland’s elected representatives hold Scotland’s sovereignty on behalf of Scotland’s people. Scotland’s ‘fate’ therefore legally remains in the hands of the majority of Scotland’s elected representatives, just as it was in 1707 when the treaty was signed. If anyone is unhappy with such an outcome they can always take it to a court.

    As far as ‘democracy’ is concerned, a referendum is not necessarily a democratic option as we found in 2014, and also since in 2016 with Brexit, and nor it appears is any referendum legally binding or constitutionally necessary for an entity to unilaterally withdraw from a treaty. What seems of greater importance in the context of Scottish self-government (i.e. independence) is the constitutional and legal position and this can it seem be properly dealt with via a majority of Scotland’s elected representatives. And anyone objecting to this will have recourse to the courts should they wish to clarify matters.

    1. Commenter says:

      If Scotland was an independent state, your comment might make sense on some level. However since it isn’t, it doesn’t.

      1. Alf Baird says:

        Scotland may not be as you suggest an ‘independent state’ however Scotland nevertheless remains a signatory to the Treaty of Union creating Scotland’s joint parliament, the latter styled as ‘UK’. You appear to assume that Scotland (and England) does not exist in any meaningful (i.e. constitutional or legal) sense merely because (Scotland) created by international treaty a joint legislature and governing administration together in partnership with another nation in order to pass and implement its laws. Scotland’s (and England’s) parliament may have been dissolved but Scotland (and England) was never dissolved. Westminster has acknowledged the Claim of Right that Scottish sovereignty rests with Scotland’s people; oh yes, Scotland exists. Like I said, the courts are the place to test such a matter if need be. Perhaps Scotland’s elected representatives might oblige, as they did in bringing the recent Brexit case. The question is fairly straightforward: can the Treaty of Union be unilaterally revoked by any one of its signatory nations, in the same way it was established, i.e. by a majority of Scotland’s (or England’s etc) democratically elected representatives? We might also consider that, in the event of a ‘No’ answer, this would similarly imply that England would likewise be unable to revoke the Treaty of Union even through a majority of its own representatives. What may be even more difficult to justify, legally, would be any argument that only a majority of UK Parliament MP’s from several nations could revoke the Treaty of Union on behalf of one of its constituent part nations, more especially given that that joint legislature is not even a signatory party to the treaty. And this is what the ECJ means when it states that revoking/ending a treaty is a decision primarily for the treaty signatory party nation concerned.

        1. commenter says:

          The act of Union ended Scotland as an independent state, and your comments on international law apply only to independent states. This is the fatal flaw in all Act of Union related screeds that people waste their time typing out on the internet. Treaties that delete a state also delete that state’s ability to cancel the treaty since they no longer exist as a state.

          1. Alf Baird says:

            You are quite wrong in thinking that the ToU ‘deleted’ Scotland. “Nations differ from states in one vitally important way: states possess the attribute of sovereignty”. As Scotland’s sovereignty ultimately rests with the Scottish people this implies that Scotland remains to all intents and purposes a state, albeit a state which has loaned its sovereignty to a joint legislature and recognised joint/shared ‘new’ state styled as ‘UK’. Scotland only remains part of the UK parliamentary union arrangement through the continued consent of Scotland’s people, that is an established fact. Scotland transferred through the treaty of union the authority to govern itself to that new (joint) state, the ‘UK’, which is a shared administrative entity (with England etc). The legal process for Scotland to return to independent state status need not be onerous, this requires Scotland’s elected representatives to formally withdraw Scotland from its joint parliamentary arrangement and hence to revoke the treaty of union.

            Scotland already possesses most of the attributes of a state. The 1933 Convention on the Rights and Duties of States (aka Montevideo Convention) specifically defines statehood as: “The state as a person of international law should possess the following qualifications: a permanent population; a defined territory; government; and capacity to enter into relations with the other states.” Former ambassador Craig Murray believes international recognition of Scotland as an independent state would be relatively straightforward.

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